Mountain biking's movers and shakers select their favourite places to ride

Mountain biking’s movers and shakers select their favourite places to ride. Here’s one such trail on Jamaica chosen by Rowan Sorrell.

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“Ask any long-standing biker what their favourite trail is, and I think most would say it is difficult to choose just one trail. Mountain biking is a rich and engaging sport because of the hugely varied terrain and the landscapes that we get to ride within. In some respects, the bike is simply the tool to allow us to access and experience some special places that can reach deep into your soul and create that feel of awe that only being truly surrounded by nature provides.

“That’s why I was drawn into my line of work, trail-building, as for me the experience that a trail can give you blows any bike tech out of the water, its all about the trail and the ride.

“That said, my favourite trail isn’t one that I have worked on, though it’s been a privilege to do so with trails in the Czech Republic and India standing out as giving the cultural experiences that stay with you long after leaving.

“No, my favourite trail rides are on trails that have generally been created by man many years ago and continually shaped by nature and what I enjoy most is that first run where you hit it blind and don’t know what is around the next crest or bend. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many countries riding and have ridden some truly amazing trails in my time. Just in the past year I can think of a few that stand out as being right up there as favourites. Riding in the Aosta valley had some all-time trail riding, the Karma Gutza trail used in this year’s EWS in Blue Derby Tasmania is a very special trail combining the tech of the natural slab and boulders in the area with crazy flow, and in BC I rode a trail near Lillooet last year that just had so much speed and incredible dirt that you got to the bottom thinking it was the best run you had ever done, and it was close.

“However, the trail that I think takes it for me is Pressure Drop near Robins Bay, Jamaica. The whole experience is out of this world – a short but steep technical climb gets the heart pounding out of your chest before a brief downhill respite within the woods spits you out into a grassy clearing and one of the best views on a trail in the world. You are on a small grassy plateau overlooking the Caribbean Sea with the trail and forest descending below, it’s ridiculously idyllic. The trail continues on down past patches of farmland, tall grasses and bamboo before going back into woodland and pushing on down a fast and flowy rock strewn gulley requiring full commitment all the way to the bottom. The trail finishes on a secluded small bay with a black sand beach. This is tropical island life at its best, away from any crowds and vivid in colour, it’s the one trail I always want to relive.”

– Rowan Sorrell

afan forest

Rowan Sorrell: trail-building supremo and trail-riding badass

Rowan Sorrell, Rider and trail builder

Rowan raced World Cup downhill for xx years, before founding trail building company Back On Track, responsible for some of the best-loved trails in the UK. He’s also a director at BikePark Wales.